Atlantic Rescue: Coast Guard Rescues Austrian Boater From Life Raft

The crew of a Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod rescued an Austrian boater from a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 120 nautical miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, earlier this month.

Published 6 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Rescued is Wolfgang Sloma, 56, who was transiting aboard the 27-foot Austrian-flagged sailing vessel Daphni, when reportedly he was forced to deploy and board the vessel’s life raft after the mast partially broke and made a hole in the hull causing the vessel to take on water and sink.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a 406 MHZ Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress signal from the Daphni and immediately coordinated the HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, launched from Air Station Borinquen, to search for the distressed boater. Coast Guard watchstanders also conducted Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) callouts to identify and notify commercial vessels transiting in the vicinity of the distress and contacted Vienna Rescue Control Center watchstanders in Austria, who confirmed having received a distress call from Sloma via satellite phone.

Coast Guard watchstanders were able to contact Sloma and assess his condition aboard the life raft. Sloma reported he was wearing a life jacket and that his life raft was equipped with signaling flares, GPS, food, a VHF marine radio and a satellite phone.

The Coast Guard rescue helicopter and the KN Forest, a Singapore flagged cargo vessel that responded to the AMVER callout and had diverted to assist, arrived on scene with the distressed boater. The crew of the Coast Guard helicopter deployed their rescue swimmer, hoisted Sloma from the life raft and transported him to Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico, where he was assessed by Emergency Medical Service personnel and declined to receive any further medical care.

“This rescue speaks to the importance of having the right type of emergency equipment available during an open ocean voyage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Phillips, Sector San Juan Command Center Chief. “Our watchstanders quickly became aware of the distress and were able to establish communications with the boater and coordinate a successful rescue operation,” said Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Phillips, Sector San Juan Command Center chief.

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